In case you happen to be feeling down about some of the off-field issues that the Pittsburgh Steelers have been having in recent years and the Bengals aren’t providing quite enough schadenfreude, you’re in luck, because the Baltimore Ravens have been doing their part to pick up the slack—without even mentioning Cleveland’s own unique brand of misery.
When it comes to one issue in particular that has been giving Steelers fans fits—drug suspensions—their own team’s woes actually pale in comparison to their southern rival’s. In fact, if you go back to just the 2010 season, the Ravens have had thirteen suspensions due to drugs, with 10 different players being hit, which is the most in the league, averaging nearly two per year.
They have already filled their quota this year with Darren Waller, one of their tight ends, recently being docked for at least a full season, and second-year running back Kenneth Dixon is also going to begin the 2017 season serving a four-game suspension.
For Waller, this was his second suspension in the NFL, not including a suspension that he received in college. But they certainly have had a lot of issues in this area in recent years. Another tight end, Nick Boyle, served a 10-game suspension last year, which was also his second suspension.
Arguably the most notable players that they have had received drug-related suspensions are former nose tackle Haloti Ngata, now with the Lions for the past couple of years, and former safety Will Hill, who was an emerging player for them—and other teams—until his mounting suspensions finally forced them to cut the cord.
All of these issues are somewhat ironic considering the team’s brass making prior comments about their recent concerted efforts to vet players’ character better. It is, of course, an inexact science, but you don’t want to lead the league in drug suspensions when you’re purportedly doing a more thorough than average vetting procedure.
General manager Ozzie Newsome in particular said that two of their most recently suspended players, Boyle and Dixon, are players that they “vetted very well”, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN, but it was obviously not enough for foresee their current dilemma.
While there is only so much that a team can do in the pre-draft process to prevent themselves from attaching to players who are at a higher risk of running into trouble, it might be wise for the Ravens to reassess how they do things, given the number of players that they have had who are getting hit with suspensions.